The Farm-House


I dreamed of the farm-house again last night.
When I saw the numbers match the numbers on the ticket in my hand at the end of the 10:00 o’clock news, when I learned that I’d won the lottery, before I even had the money in my hand, before I took the tiny slip of paper to the Lotto office to be sure it was really the single winning ticket for the $90 million dollar jackpot, I threw my cigarettes, a tooth-brush and my Master Card into my purse. I ran out to the driveway, tore open the door of my blindingly yellow Dodge Hemi truck, turned the key, felt the thunder as the engine roared to life and I flew out of the driveway.
I sped to the Tulsa airport, disregarding the speed limit because I was rich now. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t thinking that money made me above the law, but I could definitely afford to pay a speeding ticket.
I parked the truck in the long-term parking lot, ran inside the terminal to the first counter I saw and walked away with a ticket for American Airlines Flight 144 to Boston.
After a take-forever walk through security, I raced down the chintzy red carpet, catching the flight attendant’s attention just before he shut the door.
I was going home. My husband always told me that it wasn’t home anymore, that home was where we lived, in our 1986 trailer home set on two acres of Heaven in Owasso, Oklahoma.
I always said, “You’re right, honey.”
But he wasn’t.
As the many plaques will tell you, home is where your heart is and I had left mine on the cold, wet sand of Plum Island, nesting in the sand dunes I had crawled on before I could walk and then when I was older, I’d left more of me on the hot, sandy beaches of Hampton and Salisbury.
The last pieces I can remember seeing were hidden in the tunnels behind the walls of the farm-house, the tunnels where I had stashed my baby sister, playing quietly with her on the dusty floor so dad wouldn’t find us or hiding with Mom when the bill collectors pounded on our door.
When the wheels came down as we flew over the water of Revere Beach, I held my breath. I didn’t breathe again until the plane’s wheels touched the runway.
As the familiar seat belt ding sounded, everyone rushed to their feet.
I grabbed my purse and I pushed along with the crowd of people who also wanted off the plane, now.
I headed straight for the Avis counter and rented a luxury car with no idea of where I wanted to go or why I had flown eighteen hundred miles on the very day the lottery had blessed (or cursed) my life. All I knew for sure was that I was going to kidnap my Mom out of the nursing home and she was coming with me for one wild ride.
The car almost drove it self as I left the Avis parking lot. I think that the auto pilot of my soul was driving.
I sped along Route 93 with my feet driving and my heart dancing.
Suddenly, I knew where I was going! My urges were taking me back to the farm-house on High Street, to the house that my dad had bought for $8,000.00 only to give it back to the bank several years later.
So many times, I had dreamed of that familiar front door opening to me.
The present owner would throw open the solid white, wooden door with red trim, welcoming me home. The dream varied, probably depending on what I ate before I fell asleep.
Sometimes a woman, sometimes a man, but the answer-er always allowed me to wander down the hallowed halls of my dysfunctional, childhood home. Well, one of many, but the first real house with running water, walls, doors and a roof the rain didn’t ping off.
The farm-house that I’d been forced to leave behind when I was still a young girl.
In my memories, the curtains that my mom had sewn on her push pedal Singer sewing machine still hung in the living room windows.
I remembered the day she’d made them. I remembered the scent of the hot, damp cotton as she’d ironed each panel and hung it. I remembered the look of pride on her face as she stood back and smiled at what she had created.
I’d left a shard of me behind when I’d left that farm-house while taking a fragment from the walls. A sharp; yet, comforting splinter and it was still tucked away safely inside my heart’s vault.
A splinter that led me home, if only in my dreams, over and over.
Somehow the wood and the mortar had become entwined with my soul, an intrinsic puzzle I could not solve.
Finally, I could buy that now declared historic house, no matter the cost.
Panic pulsed through my veins and I asked myself, what am I doing?
Did I think that I could move back to the farm-house and did I think that I could start my life over again?
I guess so because I had dreams when my mind went back there, so I figured my body could too.
If I went back to there, could I go back to then and start my life over and change my now?
Could I hide in the secret tunnels and let time remove the stains and the hurts I had gathered in the years since I had left?
These were the questions searing my brain as I drove toward Billerica, doing forty miles over the speed limit.
I had to buy the house before I went to get Mom.
Money could bring my mom back to her house, the house she’d lost so long ago.
I dreamed of the farm-house again last night.


Inside The Picture

Sitting on a porch swing
at her country home
I never saw a face
that looked so all alone.
She gazes into space
her eyes are far away
I wonder where she is
she isn’t in today.
I see a little girl
in the woman’s eyes
a hurt and lonely child
I hear her softly cry.
The pain of dreams now lost
the scars that still remain
when I look at her picture
all I can see is pain.
She captures my heart
I want to hold her tight
I run to save the woman
the girl hides in fright.
The girl plagues the present
with all her musty fears
if I could console the girl
I’d end the woman’s tears.

by Jeanne Marie, 1986

Prepping For When Disaster Strikes

First thing this morning, while we’re having our coffee on the porch, a man knocks on our door.
The fanatical gleam in his eyes reminds me of Bernie Sanders and he even looks a little like him.
Of course, we don’t open the door. I don’t care if he is eighty and can hardly walk. He really could be a politician in disguise.
My husband goes to the screen and talks to him and he accepts a pamphlet through a crack in the door.
It’s the Awake pamphlet.
I have to admire this group’s dedication.
They have knocked on my door at over twenty addresses in six states.
It began forty-odd years ago when I had my very first own door to open.
I had foot surgery last week and now I’m sitting down too much, so I read the pamphlet, “When Disaster Strikes.”
Oh crap, now I have to clean out the cellar while I’m on crutches.
I’ve always had the prepper mentality (my dad instilled those principles early) and this pamphlet just triggered it harder than the nightly news.
If I was wealthy, I would already have an awesome underground shelter or maybe intricate caves built into the rocks in the White Mountains.
I’m not, so I have to settle for the smaller things in life, which are just as valuable, although not when it comes to having a place to hide out until the world is done fighting.
Yup, all I have is the cellar and that doesn’t usually work out very good in the movies.
After I finished reading the pamphlet, you know the one that told me that I could be needing my cellar, I started making a mental checklist of what I had on hand.
Despite my husband’s resistance to prepping, I think we could last a week with the supplies I’ve stashed, starting with dried seaweed, a few gallons of water and two cans of powdered peanut butter for protein.
I  haven’t been unaware of the need to keep my food cabinets full and I buy emergency supplies all the time.
I simply have a very hard time keeping extra supplies in the house because my husband eats everything I bring home.
Luckily, he hates seaweed and sardines. He did ask to try the peanut butter powder, so after I yelled, “No way,” I hid it.
I also am the proud owner of a big bag of mess-hall chili that nobody else would eat. I saved it for the day someone would be grateful to have it. Maybe me.
My sister, who hoards food and cast iron frying pans, was throwing it out and me, the odd stuff hoarder, snagged it just in case.
If you’re in touch with the world at all, it looks like just in case could be coming up soon, so I felt pretty good about that decision.
A few cans of milk, an open bag of dog food and a half full jar of instant coffee completes my emergency provisions.
I used to keep a carton of Marlboro cigarettes with my emergency stash, but I have the same problem with cigarettes that my husband has with food. I smoked them all.
So at this point, my husband tells me that he’s going to the store and even though I know what he’s going to say, I ask him to get five more gallons of water to put in the cellar and maybe some seaweed.
Wait a minute. I can’t stop laughing.
Okay, so he says, “No, I don’t think so. You don’t need to buy water. Water comes out of the faucet.”
I give him my famous, “We need enough provisions to last for at least a week and water is the most important supply,” speech.
I try to speak calmly to him and to make him aware that our lives could end quickly if we don’t have water on hand for emergencies.
I appeal to his love for the dogs.
“The dogs need water too!”
He says, “No effing way,” and goes out the door, but returns with a case of gallon bottles of water, which is pretty heavy and he has a bad back. That is love.
To be honest, I think it was the dog appeal which turned him in my direction. He does love his babies.
I said, “Thank you, thank you and oh, did you buy any more seaweed?”
“Eff the seaweed,” he said. “Be glad for what you got instead of complaining about what you don’t got.”
I think he learned to talk like that at the firing range, hanging out with all the mountain men.
It’s a John Wayne attitude with a New England twist.
And by the way remember when I said he was a prepping resistor? Well, when I suggested some gun purchases, he broke all records buying them.
I asked him about the way the rules change and he said, “Yeah the rules do change. They change to to fit my need.”
“You finally admitted it,” I said.
It doesn’t matter anyway because I already put it in my first book, “as soon as I learn the rules he changes them” but it was nice to get confirmation.
I told him I was going to quote him in this story and I asked him to please get me a cup of coffee.
He brought back my coffee and said, “Here is your effing coffee. Put that in your story.” So I just did.
He’s so funny and so creatively rude that he gets in my stories without even trying and I do love getting a good quote.
It’s ironic that I have tons of prepping books on my Kindle and I always promise myself that I’ll read them someday, but I haven’t even looked at them since the day they were downloaded.
That’s one task I probably shouldn’t put off, because someday could be any day now. I’ll be screwed if we get an EMP strike because I won’t have electricity to power my Kindle.
And speaking of using up the things we buy for emergencies, he keeps ordering cases of bullets to ease my prepping mind and then he goes out to the firing range and shoots them all. It’s possible he’s using my anxiety to buy cases of bullets just to shoot them, but I like to think the best of people.
Then, this afternoon I see a notice in the local newspaper.
“Water Department will be flushing hydrants through the month of October. Persons may wish to store drinking water, as the flushing may temporarily disturb organics that may be in the main.”
Is the water safe or not? Talk about not committing yourself. Anyway, there goes the water stash.
So, I’m going to hide some corn chips to go with the chili and I’m praying for World Peace.
Sorry if I misled you. I just realized that I’m really not very good at what to do when disaster strikes or prepping.

There’s A Blizzard Coming

Well, the weather lady said there’s a blizzard coming tomorrow. She promised from 5 to 10 inches of snow, so I figured I’d better get out to the store and stock up.
I also figured I might need some fresh air before the snow came and locked me in the house for another two or three days.
My husband and I went to Rite-Aid and l picked out some stuff on clearance. Coffee cups, coffee jars for my sisters and a pretty rug for the kitchen floor. A New Hampshire Live Free or Die tee-shirt for my daughter and a big wash pail for the garage.
Okay, so what else did I need before the big blizzard hits up here in the White Mountains?
We saw some vitamins on clearance and after a lively conversation about who had the worst memory, we picked out two bottles of DHA 600. According to the label, it’s necessary for optimal brain function and we totally agreed we each had room for improvement.

Last, I picked up 2 packs of Marlboros even though I’ve gotten myself down to less than a half a pack a day. You just never know how long you’re going to be stuck in the house after a blizzard.
Our trip’s Grand Finale was a meal at McDonald’s, the only fast food available for miles around and I had a breakfast sandwich for supper.
Luckily, it was delicious, because complaining about your food can be a big problem in a little town.
In fact, I was hoping that the girl didn’t remember me from the last time we went there.
I had ordered a grilled chicken sandwich that I took one bite out of and very quickly returned to the counter girl. I declared it a piece of manufactured something that could not possibly be chicken, politely, but I also shuddered as I declined the offer of replacing it with anything else.
I think the same girl waited on me today and I have to say, she was sweet as anything.
She even brought our food over to the table and made sure my coffee was just right.
So now we are home all tucked in and getting ready to watch a movie.
We didn’t realize until the dogs started to bark at us that we had forgotten to get dog food and an onion for the corned beef dinner that we’re going to cook tomorrow. (We did have enough dog food for tonight.)
Even worse, we forgot Marshmallow. That’s my new addiction and I’m almost out.
I’m not going to say who ate half of it, but that is the person who is going to get dressed tomorrow and go to the store during the blizzard.
He’s very sweet about things like that anyway, maybe because he eats so much Marshmallow.

Love isn’t and love doesn’t


I’m not sure what love is.

I tried to write what I knew about love and I didn’t come up with a very long list.

So, I’m going to tell you what I do know.

I know what love isn’t and what love doesn’t.

Love is not the flush you get from your head to your toes when you meet someone who sparks your pheromones. Walk away or get burned. That’s lust.

Love is not the tingle you get between your legs when you see Sam Elliott in white briefs. Again, lust.

Love is not orgasm after orgasm. You could get that from a stranger who triggered your pheromones. Lust, again.

Love doesn’t manipulate, control and lie.

Love doesn’t run away emotionally and physically when times are hard.

Love doesn’t throw family or friends away if they screw up.

Love doesn’t hold you down by convincing you that you can’t do anything right, so you might as well give up before you even start.

Love doesn’t bind you in barbed wire because it’s afraid of losing you.

Love doesn’t lock you in because it’s afraid to let you out, afraid that somebody else might tempt you.

Love doesn’t control you by controlling your access to money.

Love doesn’t hit you or slap you.

Love isn’t cruel or verbally abusive.

Love doesn’t make you feel dead inside.

Love doesn’t care if you are pretty or if you have big boobs, gorgeous hair and a tiny waist.

Love doesn’t make you less…

Love doesn’t stand you up.

Love doesn’t break you into a million pieces.

Love isn’t a game of tug and war.

Love doesn’t capture your heart just to break it.

Love isn’t the presents you buy her after you made her cry.

Love doesn’t always last forever.


In the very midst of my black despair
God’s hope and love shines through.
Peeking around the corner
poking through the trees
the light calls to me…
come out, come out…
we want to play with you.
Black despair tells me…
You stay put. This is where you belong!
Yet the light’s beacons are stronger.
I stumble back to the lights.
Black despair is full of lies
and I am seeking truth.
I won’t give up.
I won’t give in.
I will continue to fight.